You may have seen this news story around your newsfeeds lately, about a 6-year old boy with autism who invited his entire kindergarten class to his birthday party, only to have no one show up. According to the article:
Glenn Buratti invited all 16 of his kindergarten classmates from a Florida elementary school to his sixth birthday party last weekend. His mother, Ashlee Buratti, said not a single one responded to the invite.
“He was so devastated when he realized no one was coming to his birthday party that he refused to smile,” Buratti told ABC News today. “He tried to hide the fact that he was crying by pinching the bridge of his nose.”
UGH. This made me so incredibly sad. However, this story had a happy ending. Members of the family’s community came through for this little guy, and definitely made sure he felt special and appreciated on his birthday. Thank goodness!
However, it made me think…at some point, your child will likely get invited to do something by someone they don’t consider a close friend. Maybe a classmate will invite him over to play, or you’ll get a party invitation that will make your own child say “He invited me to his party? We aren’t friends– he never even talks to me at school!” Consider using this as a teachable moment. Encourage your child to go. Teach your child to show up for others. Maybe that child doesn’t talk to others at school. Maybe he has autism, social anxiety, selective mutism, or maybe…he’s just shy. Whatever the case, if you can, show up. There’s really no downside to extending your friendship to someone who has made the effort to reach out asking for your company.
This is advice that follows us from childhood onward. Show up. When I moved to a new town 5 years ago, so many people showed up for me, and continue to now. I was a new mom with a very high-needs baby in a small town where I literally didn’t know a single person. I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time, and felt extremely isolated. I finally joined a local mom’s group, and was amazed by how many other moms just showed up for me. People who had never met me included me in play dates, library meet-ups, park outings, etc. When I had a medical emergency with my younger son a few weeks ago, I was flooded with calls, texts, and emails from my local friends, offering to help and checking in on us. It was so nice to know that people were there for me. Everyone “showed up” for me, and I do my best to return the gesture.
So when you, or your child, get that invite from a person you may not consider a “close friend”, consider showing up. There’s no harm in extending your circle of friends, and you may be helping someone in ways you can’t even imagine!